What makes the electricity consumption of cryptocurrencies so complicated.

A typical Bitcoin mining setup. Photo by BlokForge.

Billionaire Elon Musk caused quite a stir in early May when he announced via Twitter that Tesla Motors, effective immediately, would no longer accept payments in Bitcoin. Citing a “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels” stemming from its adoption, Musk said the company would pause to investigate more sustainable alternatives.

This seemed quite a heel turn for the electric vehicle company boss, long seen by many as a leading spokesperson for blockchain technologies. The energy consumption of Bitcoin had not stopped Tesla from investing $1.5 billion into the digital token just months earlier. …

Finding joy in the beauty of everyday gifts

Photo by Chad Madden

Researchers who deal with demarcating the line between childhood and adulthood no doubt have an abundance of scientific methods for doing so. I imagine these involve everything from running an fMRI machine to check for brain development to analyzing blood samples for markers of sexual maturity. However, I suggest alternative metric, perhaps less quantitative but redeemably simple. The transition from childhood to adulthood, I think, can be marked by the turn in attitudes toward receiving socks as a holiday gift.

As a kid, socks may well be coal without the explicit implication. Opening them feels like a thinly-veiled punishment for…

Becoming an e-Resident of Estonia from my kitchen table.

Tallinn, Estonia. Photo by Julius Jansson

With most of the world still in varying degrees of lockdown and having personally gone no more than a few miles from my house for several months, an urge for some vicarious experience of travel got me reading up on Estonia.

The country is famous for its beautiful pine forests, lively singing festivals, and standing as the fabled birthplace of the sauna — at least according to its Wikipedia page. …

Looking at historical data to understand how runners peak.

Photo by Roger Sanderson

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed until the summer of 2021, I got to thinking of all the hopeful Olympians confined to their living rooms and what they must be up to. Maybe some of them have taken up a quarantine hobby like baking or guitar playing, something to distract from the long, twelve month extended wait for the chance to represent their countries in front of millions.

For many top-level athletes, who devote countless hours to grueling training regimens in order to prepare to compete on the world stage, such an unexpected rescheduling must feel devastating. With the margin between…

What natural disasters can teach us about basic human bias.

The 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake. Photo by NOAA

When the Mississippi River flooded in 1927, it unleashed untold devastation. The thousands of miles system of levees constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers meant to protect against such an event, which had held up fairly well to that point, stood no match for the record hundred year flood. Waters swamped over the river’s vast flood plane and displaced roughly half a million people from Missouri to Louisiana. The monumental rebuilding task which followed, intensified by the Great Depression starting in 1929, meant it would take decades to recover a fraction of what had been lost.

The term “hundred…

Walter Paiva

Occasional writer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

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